July 23, 2018 - The Record

On Fulbright, Dr. Alejandro Gugliucci Searches for a New Way to Help the Body Fight Bad Cholesterol

On the first Fulbright grant for the College of Osteopathic Medicine, Dr. Alejandro Gugliucci, Professor and Associate Dean for Research, will test a compound that may lead to a new approach in the fight against heart disease. For nearly 15 years, Dr. Gugliucci’s lab has been one of three or four in the country to work on the PON1 protein that helps “good cholesterol” prevent the negative effects of “bad cholesterol”. As one of the leaders on lipoproteins and publisher of 110 articles on heart disease and diabetes, Dr. Gugliucci will join in the post-doctoral research of his former student, Dr. Ignacio Peralta, and the faculty of the Department of Pharmacognosis in the School of Pharmacy at the University of Buenos Aires, Argentina, starting this August.

When bodies are working properly, the “bad” cholesterol, Low-density Lipoprotein (LDL), is an essential part of health. LDL is the mechanism that makes fat available to cells for energy and transports fat soluble vitamins (vitamins A, D, E, and K) throughout the body. But under the distress of smoking and inflammation caused by a diet high in fat or sugar, alcohol, lack of exercise, or genetic predispositions, the lipoprotein is exposed to oxidization, which causes it to sit and build into the cholesterol plaque that clogs our arteries instead of passing through as it should.

“When it’s oxidized, the LDL turns rancid like butter,” explains Dr. Gugliucci, “and rancid fat is not good for you. But the ‘good cholesterol’, High-density Lipoprotein (HDL), has antioxidant properties that can keep your LDL from going bad.”

LDL and HDL
Enhancing the protective role of High-density Lipoprotien (HDL) could lead to the prevention of heart disease.

HDL and LDL both come from the liver to the blood. One of the roles of HDL is to keep LDL flowing so it can nourish the body until the excess finally passes through excretion.

“HDL functions as a recycler of cholesterol, preventing inflammation and oxidation,” says Dr. Gugliucci.

HDL is protected by an enzyme called PON1, but in a stressful environment full of oxidized, rancid fat, the effectiveness of PON1 is greatly diminished, which keeps HDL from doing its job.

The research and understanding of the “good cholesterol” HDL has been sparse compared to its “bad” LDL counterpart. Today, doctors can prescribe statins or lipid-lowering medications to reduce the amount of LDL in your blood. Researchers have established that high levels of LDL are linked to heart disease and stroke, whereas high levels of HDL are linked to decreased risk of heart disease. But simply raising a person’s HDL is not enough to improve health. The same stressful environment that leads to LDL’s buildup of cholesterol in the arteries also diminishes the benefits of HDL, and Dr. Gugliucci is hopeful that their team will find a means to restore HDL to its proper function, opening a new pathway to the prevention of heart disease.

The protective compound that will be tested here on campus is designed with properties from a native plant. Over the next three months, Drs. Gugliucci and Peralta will observe this compound in various stressful environments that replicate the hostile conditions of our own bodies that can lead to heart disease and stroke.

Learn more here 

 Dr. Rolly Kali-RaiA New Guide on the Path to Pharmacy: Dr. Rolly Kali-Rai, Assistant Dean for Pharmacy Student Services

With the arrival of the fall semester at the College of Pharmacy, new Assistant Dean for Pharmacy Student Services for the College of Pharmacy, Rolly Kali-Rai, PharmD, MBA, is excited for the opportunity to work more closely with students.

“I am here to help students tap into the network that already exists at TUC to give them that human interface to connect where they need to go,” says Dr. Kali-Rai. “Each individual’s path to a career in pharmacy is unique, and we’re here to help them navigate the potential opportunities.”

Dr. Kali-Rai has been working closely with Gordon McCarter, PhD in the transition; Dr. McCarter has served the school as Assistant Dean for Student Services. Before he came to TUC in January, Dr. Kali-Rai’s own path in pharmacy involved 26 years of experience in the fields of clinical pharmacy, career hospital management, and patient safety/risk management.

“The more we’re different, the more we’re the same in the quest for lifelong learning and caring,” he says. “It’s so rewarding to see joy in all our students as they succeed and come into their own in a career in pharmacy. The College of Pharmacy is focused on student success, and our faculty and staff do so through their dedication and genuine concern. We truly are a Pharmily here.”

Upcoming Events

Campus Wide New Student Orientation: Monday, August 6th

Touro Day at the Park: Sunday, August 12th

Come out with TUC to cheer the Vallejo Admirals as they play the Pittsburg Diamonds on Jewish Heritage Day! Enjoy family games and meet the Touro Bull!

Wilson Park
1007 Solano Avenue
Vallejo, CA

First Pitch at 1:05 PM

Ticket information to come

Invitation from the TUC Alumni Association

Outdoor Gym Grand Opening: Monday, August 13th

Town Hall: Wednesday, August 15th

Meet Our Staff: Doritina "Dori" Phenix, Administrative Coordinator at the Graduate School of Education

Dori Phenix

Born, raised, and educated in Vallejo, Doritina “Dori” Phenix is always looking for new ways to support education. For several years she worked as an After School Program Facilitator with students in grades sixth through 12th grade to help with their homework, organize trips, and review and update grant information. She’s tutored students from elementary to high school and helps break down classrooms at the end of the year. Here at Touro, Dori assists student services at the Graduate School of Education (GSOE) from registration to commencement. With her English Literature AA at Diablo Valley College and her Human Communication BA with a focus in Pre-law at CSU Monterey, Dori dreams of pursuing a law degree with an emphasis in education. 

“My ultimate career goal is to one day become Secretary of Education for California—but baby steps first,” she smiles. 

The youngest of six, Dori loves to read, cook, and spend time with her two dogs and her bearded dragon.

What teacher made the biggest impression on who you are today?

My mother was my first teacher. My family has always been big on education, and she instilled that passion in me. Other than my mother, I would have to say my 10th grade English teacher, Ms. Bofill, has made the biggest impression on who I am today. I still go back and help her with her high school students whenever I get a chance. Ms. Bofill taught me and her students that you have to spread your knowledge: “each one teach one”.

Why is education law so important to you?

My passion for education law comes from various research I’ve done on the California schooling system and the policies that have shaped how education is funded and treated by the population at large. Many communities/groups find themselves at a disadvantage funding-wise since a large portion of educational funding comes from homeowner taxes. Long story short, I believe that education law could be my “in” to eventual policy change or at the very least a better understanding of the laws that govern education. Also, I’m not sure if I have the patience to teach a room full of students, but I sure do respect anyone who does!

Can you tell us a bit about your family? How do they shape who you are?

I am the youngest of six children as many people here may already know–my mother is the oldest girl of 11. Once that sinks in, most people tend to get an idea of how big my family actually is; and we are close. My family has always been supportive–not just of me, but also of my cousins and close family friends. We know how to be a support group, and sometimes all you really need is someone to be able to talk to.

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This issue does not contain medical advice. It is for educational purposes only. It does not represent the views of Touro University California.